FoliHere’s an idea whose time is long overdue: A company known as Foli is using location detection technology to update all those wrinkled, months-old magazines that are always sitting around in sad little piles at the dentist’s office or the waiting room at the hospital.

Here’s how it works: First, a business interested in offering the service has to visit the Foli website, where they can sign up to become a Foli browsing spot. (The service isn’t yet widely available, but it does currently seem to be in the process of spreading itself throughout the country.) Visitors to the waiting room or business in question can then download Foli’s free app from the App Store—no word yet on whether an Android app is in the works—at which point they can access all the magazines in the app’s library, which seems to be fairly well-stocked.

And what if you didn’t quite finish that gripping Mike Sager piece before being called into the back room for your root canal? Not a problem: Articles can apparently be saved, and finished later when you’re no longer in the vicinity of the Foli browsing spot. (As for the actual number of articles that can saved and read off-site? Not sure. Anyone out there happen to know?)

Some of the titles available, by the way, include Wired, Vanity Fair, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, and Popular Mechanics.

Personally, I’d love to give this service a shot; I’m almost always disappointed by the selection of reading material I find myself pawing through when I’m in a waiting room. But since I have a Nexus 7 and not an iPad, and because the two Foli spots closest to my Philadelphia home are a Starbucks in Norristown, Pa., and a Hyatt Regency in Jersey City, I guess I’m outta luck for the time being. (The majority of the company’s hot spots are in the San Francisco Bay Area, natch.)

I’d love to hear from anyone else, though, who’s had a chance to take the app for a spin.


  1. I don’t know about this. The only reason I read magazines in waiting rooms is because there was nothing else to do, I wasn’t going there looking for reading material. If I have a smartphone or tablet with me I already have it loaded with content that I want to read rather then what happens to be available. This seems like a solution looking for a problem.

  2. There’s been a decent amount of discussion lately on the PubLib listserve about Zinio for libraries and the hassle/confusion of multiple login pages. (My library doesn’t have it, so I haven’t looked at it and can’t speak from experience.) Apparently you have to log into whatever company is partnered with Zinio and then log in to Zinio.

    Depending on how the prices compare this could be easier for libraries and library patrons.

  3. I haven’t read a magazine in a waiting room since I got my first Palm and loaded a few public domain books I found online. I now have a library of 800+ books on my iPhone to keep me entertained.

  4. @Jeb48 — I hear you, but the thing is (and I may not have made this as clear as I should have in the post), Foli isn’t just being adapted by doctors’ and dentists’ offices. It looks like quite a few Starbucks locations are signing up, for instance, as are a lot of hotels.

    If you visit and pop in a ZIP code, you’ll see a list of businesses in that general area that have signed up to become Foli hotspots.

    I tried 94133, the ZIP code of a youth hostel I used to work at in San Francisco (Foli is based in the Bay Area, and most Foli hotspots are still located there), and I came up with five Starbucks locations, three Peet’s Coffee locations, a YMCA, a half-dozen independent coffee shops I’m not familiar with, an Asian restaurant, a nail salon, a hair-and-makeup salon, and the west coast offices of Hearst Magazines.

    I then tried 94703, an area of Berkeley, and got more or less the same thing: A million Starbucks and indie-cafe locations, a hair-braiding salon, a hotel, a recreational sports facility, and a few small cafe-type restaurants.

    In fact, I’m guessing Foli will not see the majority of its growth in waiting rooms, but rather in so-called “Third Places” — like coffee shops.

  5. Hey Dan,

    Thanks for the amazing write up. Foli looks great. Do you know how much they charge the merchants? and do you know if there are a lot of people using it at the location? We are thinking of getting the service, but would like some neutral reviews before approaching them.

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